Editor caught plagiarizing humor columns

Charles Memminger from the National Association of Newspaper Columnist reports that a former North Dakota Newspaper Association President and newspaper owner is plagiarizing humor columns and passing them off as his own. According to Memminger, writer Dave Fox “was Googling some of his columns from Singapore when he discovered a column he had written in 2001 had been republished in 2005 in the Benson County Farmers Press in North Dakota with the byline ‘Jon Flatland,’ a well-known regional newsman.”

Turns out Fox isn’t the only writer whose work has been plagiarized.

Memminger adds:

“What makes determining the true extent of Flatland’s plagiarism difficult, is that many of his columns are not posted online. So someone will have to type in parts of columns into Google from newspaper hard copies to find if they were stolen. Dave Fox wrote me: ‘After Googling other articles by Flatland and then searching for similar terms, I discovered that virtually every column he has claimed to have written was previously written by somebody else.'”

I know some of the readers of this site are humor columnists. Just thought you all should know this type of thing happens and maybe it wouldn’t hurt, once in a while, to Google your work and make sure no one has stolen it.

Read the whole story here.


— I found a forum where people were talking about this story

— Someone in the forum says this is a photo of Flatland

Poynter is now reporting this story (includes photo)

Poynter also reports Flatland has been plagiarizing since the 1990s



Author: Joe Donatelli

Joe Donatelli is a writer in Los Angeles. He publishes The Humor Columnist.